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Kelowna man appeals manslaughter conviction related to 1993 teen slaying

The Kelowna man found guilty of manslaughter for the 1993 death of Jennifer Cusworth is appealing his conviction.

Neil George Snelson's defence lawyer Wade Jenson filed the appeal Friday, aiming to overturn the verdict a jury rendered last October.

The underlying thrust of the appeal is the belief that the jury saw evidence that they shouldn't have.

Although the full scope of the appeal will be revealed in time, one issue at play is video of Snelson's police interview, which took place the day after his 2009 arrest.

During that interview Snelson touched on every topic from religion to a passion for music, but he chose to neither deny or confess to killing the teenager 16 years earlier when the conversation turned back to the criminal investigation at hand.

“Is it your intention to plead guilty then?” Sgt. Peter Tewfik asked Snelson early on in the  two-and-half hour interview, recorded Oct. 24, 2009.

“I haven’t made that decision yet,” replied Snelson. “I have to talk to my lawyer about what I’m going to do.”

Jenson represented Snelson from that moment forth, but will not be handling the appeal, he said, as it's not his speciality.

However if whoever does is  successful and Snelson's conviction is overturned, there will be a new trial to address Cusworth's death.

The 19-year-old was last seen alive at a Richter Street party October 1993. A day later her body was found face down in a ditch on Swamp Road  where she was left after being strangled and, ultimately, bludgeoned to death.

In the years that followed an extensive police investigation was launched, although a break in the case didn't come until 2009 when a DNA sample collected from Snelson matched semen found in Cusworth.

Snelson was charged with first degree murder, but found guilty of manslaughter Oct. 6 2010.

His sentence, which was delivered at the start of December, was 15 years in prison, minus four years for two years he served when double-time rules were in place.

With an 11 year sentence remaining, Snelson would be eligible to apply for full parole in three years, and day parole in half of that term, said Jenson.

Regardless of the conviction and sentence, Snelson, 45, has continued to maintain that he is not guilty. His only contact with Cusworth, he said, is they had sex at the party.

 

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